Liten is a major European research institute and a driving force behind the development of the sustainable energy technologies of the future. The institute is spearheading the EU’s efforts to limit dependency on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in three key areas: renewable energy, energy efficiency/storage and development of materials.
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Liten's research teams work across a vast portfolio of renewable energy technologies. Cutting-edge photovoltaic technologies are developed at INES, the French National centre for solar research and R&D with Hydrogen and Biomass activities being managed from the LITEN's main site in Grenoble, Rhone-Alpes.
“Radically improving energy efficiency will reduce the need for investment in energy infrastructure, cut fuel costs, increase competitiveness, lessen exposure to fuel price volatility, increase energy affordability for low-income households and cut local and global pollutants improving consumer welfare” Source OECD Energy report, 2014
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Transverse activities help add value to our technology portfolio. An optimised modeling and characterisation model, for example, can help reduce time to market. Browse this section to find out more....
Hydride hydrogen storage: a safer, more efficient alternative for the hydrogen energy chain
Hydrogen storage is a crucial link in developing a hydrogen energy chain that functions efficiently from production to conversion to other types of energy, and whether it is for mobile or stationary applications. Since 2008 Liten researchers have been working to develop hydride-based storage tank systems and to integrate these systems into the hydrogen energy chain. Our research aims to develop high-yield storage technologies that use less energy and ensure better safety than high-pressure storage systems and that are suitable for all industrial, stationary, and mobile applications.
Our researchers have built up world-renowned know-how in hydride hydrogen storage, with expertise at all steps of the process, including researching, developing, and making hydride materials; designing and building tank prototypes; and testing the tanks for integration into fuel-cell and electrolyzer systems.
One of our goals is to develop large-capacity hydride tanks capable of competing with high-pressure (700 bar) storage while providing equal or better energy densities at much lower levels of pressure. Our innovative approach leverages hydrides’ capacity to absorb and desorb hydrogen reversibly. We are also conducting research on high-performance materials that operate at close-to-ambient temperature (–20 °C to 80 °C) and at pressure under 30 bar. Our researchers are developing hydride-based tanks (the hydrogen confinement tank and heat exchanger) that limit the negative impacts on specific heat capacity and volumetric heat capacity in order to maintain the materials’ intrinsic performance levels. This work draws on our knowledge of thermoelectricity and mechanical modeling of granular materials.
We are focusing on three main alternatives for transferring this technology to industry: integrating hydrides; researching and developing new hydride materials to obtain end systems that are lighter in weight and thus suitable for a broad range of applications; and we are diversifying into other applications, such as heat management.
Solutions for broader dissemination of hydrogen technologies for industry
Low-temperature, low-pressure storage is safer and less complicated to implement than high-pressure storage; it is also more energy-efficient due to the fact that the hydrogen does not need to undergo as much (or any) compression to be stored.
Storage is compact and therefore suitable for a broader range of industrial, stationary, and mobile uses.
Low-temperature storage can be coupled with PEMFCs with no added energy costs, making the solution easy to integrate into the hydrogen energy chain.
Liten is working directly with a number of manufacturers. Most notably, our researchers helped with the development and testing of a number of products designed and manufactured by McPhy, a company that commercializes a magnesium-hydride-based solution.
We are also keeping a close eye on niche markets where system weight is not an issue; these include agricultural and maritime machinery and forklifts, which require ballast. We have built two prototype systems for tractors, for example. The first leveraged hydride powders in block form for insertion into the tank to facilitate assembly of the prototype and reduce the material’s sensitivity to air. The blocks break down into a powder once exposed to hydrogen inside the tank. The second prototype, larger in size (2 kg capacity), entailed inserting the material directly into the tank in powder form. Both prototypes got good test results. Testing of the second prototype demonstrated that the energy cost of getting the energy back out of the hydride tank was zero when coupled with a fuel cell; this is due to the fact that the heat dissipated by the fuel cell (70 °C) is sufficient to desorb the hydride.
We are engaged in the H2FC European Infrastructure Project, which brings together university labs from across Europe, making their materials handling and characterization equipment available for research purposes. Liten is characterizing hydride swelling and shrinking for this project.
We also coordinated two projects financed by the French National Research Agency (ANR): Modernhy-T, which resulted in better insights into the thermomechanical behavior of hydrides; Sthyme, which focused on the influence of moisture contained in the hydrogen produced by electrolysis on hydrogen storage behavior.
Liten uses several research facilities for this work:
The Senepy lab in Grenoble (H2 production of 0.5 Nm3/h) to demonstrate the technical feasibility of hybrid H2-LFP battery solutions offering simplified, optimized energy management.
The Z193 lab in Grenoble (H2 production of 5 Nm3/h) to evaluate components of representative size and optimized management strategies offering a good cost-to-performance ratio.
The Prohytec lab in Cadarache (H2 production of 20Nm3/h) for coupling with renewable energy sources.
The Myrte demonstrator system in Corsica, the world’s first demonstrator system to integrate a hydrogen system and PV production chain with an island electricity grid.
Around 10 researchers
About 2 pieces of equipment to model hydride breathing, click here.
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CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.